Unlike in the past 15 years, Rafael Nadal had to deal with challenging conditions at Roland Garros. The Spaniard came to Paris with only three matches in his legs since the end of February and faced the new Wilson balls, cold and rainy weather and a roof above Court Philippe-Chatrier.
The final against Novak Djokovic had to go on with a roof above their heads, which is never the Spaniard's perfect scenario. Still, Rafa was ready to give his everything and beat a great rival at his favorite Major, saying that clearly to Carlos Moya and Francisco Roig when they informed him about the roof.
Standing behind his words, Rafa proved to be too strong for Novak that day, beating world no. 1 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in one of the most important matches of the century to claim the 20th Major crown. Nadal scored the 100th triumph from 102 Parisian encounters since 2005, a true testimony of his unmatched dominance at the clay Major.
Suffering only eight breaks in seven matches, Nadal delivered one of his best serving displays in Paris, pushing the rivals to the limits on the return and winning all encounters in straight sets! Rafa became the third-oldest champion in Paris, extending his dominance on the slowest surface and claiming the 60th ATP title on clay.
In the final, Rafa had to be aggressive and focused against the most formidable opponent, doing everything right and leaving Novak far behind in the opening two sets. Nadal finished the match with 31 winners and 14 unforced errors, tamed his strokes nicely from both wings and stole 51% of the return points to forge the crucial difference.
Novak sprayed 52 unforced errors, unable to challenge the rival for more than two hours or win a set despite a solid effort in the third.
Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic in straight sets to lift Roland Garros crown.
Rafa lost serve once, which was never enough for Novak to feel comfortable and relaxed on the court, doing almost nothing on the return and having no idea how to outplay Rafa in the shortest rallies up to four strokes, the area where he should have had the advantage.
Making a perfect start, Rafa delivered a bagel in the opener, like against Roger Federer in 2008, and served well in set number two to mount the pressure on Novak and break him twice for a 6-0, 6-2 advantage! They stayed neck and neck until 5-5 in the third after trading breaks, with Novak hitting a double fault in that 11th game to lose serve and propel Rafa towards the title after another fine hold from the Spaniard.
"When they come to tell us that the final will be played indoors, we wonder how we're going to announce that to Rafa. Fifteen minutes from the match, Francisco Roig (Rafa's co-trainer) told him so. And there, Rafa's response was: "I don't care, it doesn't matter, I'm going to win this match" Rafa had never said such a thing to me before a match!
He knew he wouldn't fail. Nadal is such a humble person. It wasn't arrogance; it was a feeling of confidence, of security," Carlos Moya said.